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1. (WO2019048997) PROCESS FOR THE PRODUCTION OF MICROBIAL BIOMASS AND THE TREATMENT OF SERUM FROM MILK OR OTHER WASTE OF THE MILK INDUSTRY
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CLAIMS

1. A process for the production of microbial biomass by whey and/or other milk waste of dairy industry comprising the following steps:

i) microfiltration of the whey and/or other milk waste of dairy industry;

ii) ultrafiltration of the microfiltration permeate obtained at step i);

iii) nanofiltration of the ultrafiltration permeate obtained at step ii);

iv) fermenting a culture of microorganisms, wherein said fermentation step is characterized by the use of the ultrafiltration permeate obtained at step ii) and of the nanofiltration concentrate obtained at step iii) as the growth medium of said culture.

2. The process according to claim 1 wherein said fermentation step comprises a step of pre-culture in synthetic growth medium and/or in the ultrafiltration permeate.

3. The process according to claim 1 or 2 wherein in said fermentation step there is provided:

- a first batch step wherein the cells of said culture of microorganisms are grown in a medium comprising a fixed volume of the ultrafiltration permeate obtained at step ii), in particular wherein said batch step lasts from 2 to 8 hours;

- a second fed-batch step wherein the ultrafiltration permeate obtained at step ii) and/or the nanofiltration concentrate of step iii) is added as growth medium to said cell culture.

4. The process according to the preceding claim wherein in said fed-batch step the rate and amount of feed are calculated based upon the amount of sugars in the feed, the amount of cells present in the reactor when one starts to administer the feed and the theoretical maximum yield, so that the feed administration rate increases exponentially parallelly to the exponential increase in microbial biomass in the reactor, wherein the feed volume is defined according to the following equation:

μ * X * V0 * θχρ (μ * ί)

wherein:

F= litres of feed per hour

μ= specific growth rate (IT1 )

X= concentration of cells in the reactor at the end of the batch (g/L)

Vo= growth medium volume contained in the reactor at the end of the batch (L)

t= time

maximum theoretical biomass yield on substrate

C= concentration of sugars in the growth medium expressed in glucose equivalents (g/L).

5. The process according to anyone of claims 1 to 4 wherein said culture of microorganisms is selected from species of the genus Saccharomyces, species of the genus Kluyveromyces and milk bacteria of genus Lactobacillus.

6. The process according to anyone of claims 1 to 5 wherein during said fermentation step a nitrogen source is added selected from yeast extract, bactopeptone, ammonium sulphate, ammonium salts or mixtures thereof in an amount comprised between 0.05% and 40% w/v, in particular between 0.05 and 5% w/v.

7. The process according to anyone of claims 1 to 6 wherein:

- in the microfiltration step a membrane is used with pores having a diameter between 0.1 and 1 pm; and/or

- in the ultrafiltration step a membrane is used with a cut-off between 5 and 50 KDa; and/or

- in the nanofiltration step a membrane is used with a cut-off between 150 and 300 Da.

8. The process according to anyone of claims 1 to 7 wherein during the fermentation step a concentration of b-galactosidase ranging from 800 to 2500 enzymatic units (UE) per litre is used.

9. The process according to anyone of claims 1 to 8 comprising a further step wherein the permeate of the nanofiltration is subjected to reverse osmosis (Ol) or used as process fluid for maintaining the fermentation temperature.

10. The process according to anyone of claims 1 to 9 wherein said fermentation step is performed under aerobic conditions with controlled flow of sterile air between 0.5-5 L/min, at a temperature between 25 and 40°C and at a stirring between 600 and 1000 rpm.

11. The process for the treatment of whey and/or other milk waste of dairy industry comprising the following steps:

i) microfiltration of the whey and/or other milk waste of dairy industry;

ii) ultrafiltration of the microfiltration permeate obtained at step i);

iii) nanofiltration of the ultrafiltration permeate obtained at step ii);

iv) optionally subjecting the permeate of the nanofiltration to reverse osmosis, wherein:

-in the microfiltration step a membrane is used with pores having a diameter between 0.1 and 1 pm; and/or

-in the ultrafiltration step a membrane is used with a cut-off between 5 and 50 KDa; and/or

-in the nanofiltration step a membrane is used with a cut-off between 150 and 300 Da.